Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by Aaron
Cream cheese is a luscious, spreadable, slightly tangy dairy product that’s become a staple in many a fridge across the globe.
And then you have whipped cream cheese, the fluffy cousin of the regular kind. Now, let’s start by understanding the basics.
Both regular and whipped cream cheese is made from cream and milk, which is added with stabilizers and cheese culture. This mix is heated and stirred, causing it to thicken into that familiar creamy goodness. Read more about how cream cheese is made.
But then, things diverge a bit.
Regular cream cheese, also known as block cream cheese, is dense and rich, with a smooth and slightly firm texture. It’s often made with simpler and fewer ingredients.
This cream cheese is spreadable but holds its shape well. Because of its thick consistency, it’s often used in recipes for cheesecakes, frostings, and pastries where you need a rich, creamy filling that won’t run or ooze out.
On the other hand, we have whipped cream cheese. The main difference here is in the production process and ingredients used — as we discussed previously in the cream cheese comparison block vs tub vs spread.
After the cream cheese is made, it is then whipped, injecting air into it and giving it a fluffier, lighter texture. This makes it super spreadable and easy to dollop onto bagels or mix into dips.
It’s also less dense, which means it contains fewer calories per serving – a bonus for anyone watching their calorie intake. But remember, both types are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.
It’s worth mentioning that whipped cream cheese spread may be added with other ingredients such as modified food starch to achieve the right spreadability and also to maintain the whipped consistency on the shelf.
An example in the image above is the whipped cream cheese by Philadelphia.
Flavor and Uses
While it’s fine to substitute the whipped version to spread on a bagel, the regular cream cheese will have a wider application in the kitchen.
Both regular and whipped cream cheese essentially tastes the same. However, the texture can affect the overall eating experience. Regular cream cheese has a richer, tangier mouthfeel due to its density, while whipped cream cheese feels lighter and smoother on the tongue.
Now, when it comes to cooking, each type has its pros and cons. Regular cream cheese is a heavyweight champ in baking. Its density allows it to stand up to heat without being too moist, making it perfect for dishes like cheesecake or cream cheese brownies.
It can also provide a satisfyingly thickened soup or sauce, as well as a creamy layer in sandwiches or wraps.
Whipped cream cheese, being granular and slightly wet (and less cheesy), doesn’t fare as well in some cheesecake recipes, tending to run down and lose its consistency. But where it really shines is in cold or room-temperature applications.
It’s ideal for slathering onto bagels, crackers, or toast, and makes an excellent base for cold dips and spreads. Its lighter texture can make it a more refreshing choice in the warmer months, too.
Read this article to see the cheesecake made with regular and whipped cream cheese by Cook’s Illustrated here.
So, to whip or not to whip, that is the question. Happy eating, folks!